It’s an extraordinary feat considering Japan’s air force only began recruiting women in 1993 and only lifted the ban on female fighter jet pilots in 2015.
Last week, First Lieutenant Misa Matsushima, 26, completed her training to fly F-15s at Japan’s National Defence Academy, reports the BBC.
“As the first female [fighter] pilot, I will open the way,” says Matsushima, who was inspired by the Tom Cruise classic Top Gun. “Ever since I saw the movie Top Gun when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter pilots.”
Matsushima started her duty last week, flying a F-15J fighter jet, which can reach top speeds of 3,000 km/hr.
“I wish to continue to work hard to fulfil my duty – not just for myself but also for women who will follow this path in the future,” says Matsushima, who is paving the way for others in a country where gender inequality is high and women are expected to become housewives instead of pursuing a career.
Three other women are already following in Matsushima’s footsteps and are currently training to join the elite group of fighter pilots.
Power to them.